These are the foundational principles of Freedom Sprout — the things our family lives by.
You should have your own family mission statement, or set of guidelines you follow, even if you don’t have them written down.
I hope these will give you some insight and help you mold your own.
I was going to separate the points by category—like money, minimalism, and travel—but they all carry over into each other, so it’s hard to pinpoint each one.
Every principle is important, so they’re randomly and equally listed.
Lastly, you can read more about each principle by clicking the recommended article below each one.
1. Mindset is Everything
This one is strung throughout almost every point on here, but the key idea is this: mindset is what separates those who are successful from those who aren’t. It’s not the only thing, and life circumstance apply for sure, but if you haven’t been successful in an area of your life, the first step is to change your mindset.
Learn the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset:
2. Giving is the First Step
When we started giving, our finances immediately changed. You can see the supernatural story in this video:
How’s your giving? It’s in giving that you receive, but you should give to give, not to receive.
3. Plan for the Worst
Emergencies will always happen. Even more so when you aren’t prepared. An emergency fund (not a credit card) is foundational for surviving hard times.
COVID has shown us we may even need a larger emergency fund than we originally thought. When you’re young, you can take a lot of financial risks, but you need to have the emergency savings in place before you start going crazy with risk.
Three months of living expenses is the minimum you should save, but after 2020, many people are choosing to save six or even 12 months of living expenses. One emergency can change all of your plans, but if you’re prepared, an emergency destroy your plans.
4. Avoid Debt
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”Proverbs 22:7
It’s true, you are a slave to the people and organizations you owe money to. Break those ties. Break that bondage. Get out of debt. If you’re not in debt, keep it that way.
If you choose to live a debt-free life, a credit score isn’t really that important, so that’s two less things to worry about.
You’ve heard of good debt and bad debt, and some people make a decent argument for good debt. However, leverage has sunk so many people. I avoid leverage and prefer to do things the debt-free way. It’s less stressful and it gives you more flexibility.
Sure, there are times when it makes sense to go into debt, but those times are rare. So rare.
5. Focus on What Matters
When it comes to your money or your life, don’t sweat the small stuff… and it’s almost all small stuff. In the same way, we all like to say, “it’s the little things” that make us happy. Seriously, life is made up of a bunch of little things. Appreciate the good ones and let go of the bad ones.
Focus on the things in life that matter: relationships, experiences, making memories.
Money really isn’t that important, compared to the other things.
6. Spend Less Than You Earn
Always be striving to earn and achieve more, but for now, you must spend less than you make so you have money for what really matters. Delay your gratification and keep your discipline. Wait until you can actually afford what you’re buying.
If you have to finance it, you can’t afford it. Just wait until you can afford it.
7. Be a Savvy Shopper
There are so many small adjustments you can make to your spending habits that will save you thousands over a lifetime. If you’re already a savvy shopper, teach these habits to your kids. If you don’t consider yourself a savvy shopper, read the article below.
8. Set Goals, but Focus on Habits
Set goals in every area of your life. Without goals, you have nothing to achieve. You should always know where you’re going in life. That being said, goals won’t achieve themsevles.
Goals are achieved through small, daily habits.
9. Do What Works for You; Don’t Imitate Someone Else
One size doesn’t fit all. If you find a way to budget, invest or save, and it works for you, do it. Apply advice to your life. Don’t mold your life to advice. Any time you read anything—including this article—make the advice fit your life. We’re all different, yet we can all learn from each other.
10. Get the Best Price, But Your Time is Valuable
There are things you can’t change the price of, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try. The worst thing that can happen is they say “no.” It’s as simple as always asking for a lower price. It can only help and it never hurts.
Likewise, when it makes sense to use coupons, use them. But don’t buy things you wouldn’t have bought only because you have a coupon or a promo deal. And definitely don’t spend 10 hours a week clipping coupons or searching for deals just to save a few bucks.
Your time is more valuable than saving a few bucks.
11. Choose Most Value Over Least Expensive
Buy the fewest amount of things to get the most results. Finding things with multiple uses will not only save space, it will save money over time. Kitchen appliances are a great example of this.
And go for quality. It’s better for your money and your time to spend a little more on something that will outlast something else by years.
When it comes to fashion, think timeless, not trendy. Timeless pieces typically cost a little more, but they have multiple uses and they’ll still be in style after this week’s fashion isn’t.
12. Know Your Limits and Spend Accordingly
Know your level of discipline/responsibility and live your life accordingly. If you aren’t responsible with credit cards, don’t use them. If you are undisciplined, automate your budget and your investing. Know thyself.
13. Money Doesn’t Solve Money Problems
Back to point #1, money is about your mindset. Your mentality is more important than your ability, but your ability will grow with your mentality. Money doesn’t solve money problems, mindset does.
Sure, if you need $500 for rent and someone gives you $500, that will solve your one problem, but if someone doesn’t know how to manage their money, you can give them $20,000 and they’ll be back to where they were before long. Most lottery winners end up losing all their money. Many pro athletes end up bankrupt just a few years after they stop making millions.
14. Don’t Be Average, Be Successful
Most people are average. That’s why it’s called average. On average, most people aren’t successful. You are better than average. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Did I say average enough?
15. Work to Learn, Not to Earn
This lesson comes straight out of the book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and it’s such a valuable lesson. The skills you get are more important than the pay you receive. Focus on working in ways that will get you closer to your ultimate goal.
A friend of mine worked at an ice cream shop for a few years to learn the business. Then he worked at a bank for a few years to learn how to handle the accounting side of a business. Now he owns multiple ice cream shops. All of those early jobs were simply teachers.
16. Learn, But Take action
Nothing happens unless you take action. Reading and learning is necessary, but if it doesn’t lead to action, it’s meaningless. So do the research if you want to start a new venture, but at some point you have to stop learning and start doing.
17. Learn From Everything and Everyone
Everything you experience teaches a lesson. Learn from your successes and mistakes, as well as other people’s successes and mistakes. You can complain when bad things happen to you, or you can take the lesson and move one.
Everyone and everything has a lesson to teach: what to do or what not to do.
18. Money Isn’t That Important
Don’t focus your life around money. Money is just a tool to enjoy the things that really matter in life. Respect it, but don’t worship it.
19. Don’t Wait to Be Happy
Don’t wait for your debt to be paid off. Don’t wait for your dream job. Don’t wait for your next promotion.You can be happy through the whole process. Stop saying “if I could just [fill in the blank], I would be happy”. You can be happy. Right now.
If you want to increase your happiness, increase your gratitude.
20. Apply Baby Steps to Every Area of Life
In every area of your life, make small progress, consistently, over a long time. This is a proven way to achieve any goal you have. Small investments, made monthly, equates to huge wealth down the road. Small changes in your diet, practiced daily, equates to huge weight loss down the road. Think small changes, not huge life shifts.
21. Pay Yourself Second
Pay God first and yourself next. This is the most basic law of investing. Your investments and savings should be paid before your bills. You will always find a way to pay your bills. You will never find a way to invest or save, unless you do it first.
22. Invest Consistently and Patiently
Don’t try to get rich quick. Investing involves diligence and patience. Anything else is simply trading, speculating or gambling. Investing consistently over time will get you to your goals. Compound interest is a powerful tool you can utilize if you invest diligently. Just be patient.
23. Don’t Invest in What You Don’t Understand
Even the great investor, Warren Buffett, doesn’t invest in companies he doesn’t understand. From stocks and mutual funds to ideas and start-up companies, know what you’re investing in. To use the popular example, if you don’t understand cryptocurrency, don’t invest in it. If you’re interested in it, understand it first, then invest in it. This goes for anything.
24. Talk About Money
Money doesn’t have to be a taboo topic. A lot of kids grow up with no understanding of financial concepts because their parents think money is a private matter, which means they don’t talk to their kids about it. Don’t hide your finances from your kids. Don’t be afraid to talk about money.
25. It’s About the Big Purchases and the Small Wins
Many financial gurus will tell you “The Latte Effect” (i.e. those small purchases, like Starbucks) is killing your budget. Others say that doesn’t matter and it’s all about the big wins. It’s about both. Seriously, read the article below.
26. Value Experiences Over Things
Instead of buying a mansion, saving for a new 90″ TV, or making $1,000/month car payment, go on a freakin’ vacation. When your kids grow up, they won’t remember all of the expensive things you bought them as much as they’ll remember the experiences you had with them.
Plus, when you focus on experiences, you’ll save money by default.
27. Know Your Why for Everything
Intentionality is the word. For anything you do, know why you’re doing it.
When you buy an investment, you should know why you bought it. If you can’t explain why you bought it to a child, you don’t really know why you bought it.
Be intentional with savings. As a financial coach, I’ve worked with so many people who have a huge savings account with no plan for it whatsoever. When you’re creating your emergency fund, think worst-case scenario and save enough to cover that. There’s too much money sitting in savings accounts around the country for “just in case something happens” expenses. In case what happens? Ask yourself that and save the amount needed. Not more.
Be intentional with how you pay your kids. Do you pay them for chores or grades? Don’t just pay them randomly in random amounts. Have a system.
Know why you work the job you work. Are you just there for the money? If so, find something you can actually explain when someone asks you why you do what you do.
28. The Best Investment is Made in Yourself
There are plenty of great investments, but there’s more to investing than stocks, commodities and real estate. The #1 investment you can make is an investment in yourself.
From education, training and courses to health products, vitamins and high quality food, set aside the money for you. Don’t wait until you “have the money.” It makes sense to spend a lot of money on a course that could earn you 10x what you spend in a few months. It makes sense to invest in high-quality products for your health, because without your health, what’s the point of anything?
29. Be Flexible
It always helps to have a Plan B. It really helps to have a Plan C, D, E, F, and G. The more flexible you are, the more you can make minor adjustments when things don’t work out as planned. So have a plan, set some goals, but be ready to flex when things change.
The more flexible you are, especially with your finances, the more risk you take on and the more opportunities you have.
30. Experience Culture Everywhere You Go
We live in Japan and we’ve experienced the culture all of Europe, but you don’t have to leave the States to get culture. People often feel like culture is only outside of their own country, but there’s plenty of new things to see in your own country, especially in the States.
So go everywhere you go like a tourist. Always be ready to learn new things and see new cultures. Even in your own town.
Further Book Reading
- 47 Things You Weren’t Taught in School (That Our Kids Need to Know)
- Budgeting for Kids: How to Teach Budgeting From Age 3 to 18
- Your Kids’s First Car: Everything You Need to Know
- When Should Your Kid Have Their Own Phone? A Real Conversation
- The Complete Guide to Saving for and Sending Your Kids to College
- Large-Family Minimalism: How We Declutter 5,000 Things a Year